Engineers, Computer Science Students Showcased Senior Design Projects

Loma Hall, the home to the Shiley-Marcos School of Engineering on the University of San Diego campus, was the center of attention on May 11.

Engineering Computing Showcase 2018



There, scattered throughout the first-floor space, were the finished products and results of Senior Design Projects by USD’s electrical, mechanical, industrial and systems engineering, entrepreneurial and computer science students.

Indeed, it seemed, the Spring Engineering and Computing Showcase had it all. Students were dressed professionally and were all business as they demonstrated and explained their innovative, creative projects to an audience of community members, industry professionals, faculty, students, staff, alumni and Engineering Dean Chell Roberts.

Projects such as the third version of the SAE Mini Baja vehicle was in the lobby, but it was surrounded by equally impressive ideas such as the Electrical Vehicle Power Allocation (EV PALS), which allows up to four electric vehicles to get recharged at the same station. Another transportation alternative, courtesy of the ASME Human Powered Vehicle Challenge, gave a six-person USD team the chance to build a recumbent bicycle with a sliding seat and full rollover protection system, a powerful drivetrain and a pair of BMX padded brakes.

Upon entering the Fabrication Laboratory, you could learn about the workings of a prosthetic hand, view a smart bicycle airbag that protects the upper body of any bicycle rider, see a six-stroke engine developed for a motorcycle and see the expansion of an idea that assists landmine survivors in Uganda to use pit latrines. Last year's Simple Seat, Better Lives, is expanded on this year by Mobility, Opportunity, Versatility, Empowerment (M.O.V.E.), whose idea examines the scope of the project and looks to increase overall mobility for persons with disabilities.

Jumping over to Donald's Garage, many of the projects were connected to computer science, including mobile applications for (a travel app) and Cheers (find local happy hours), HotKey (an app to customize keyboard shortcuts) and Flipped Tech (a web platform to influence the student-teacher learning environment). The Garage did also house a cool student project — creating a low-cost, large-format, 3D Printer.

The ASML Ideation Space housed a host of projects, many done with industry partners such as the General Atomics-connected Predator B and Gray Eagle Extended Range Drone Laminates, a watershed monitor to be used by the Ocean Discovery Institute, and first-time partner Cobham, who worked with students on a project to reduce metal plating thickness variation.

Other industry partners and sponsors for student projects were San Diego Gas and Electric; FedEx, Jerome's Furniture, Cubic Transportation, American Society of Mechanical Engineers, USD Associated Students, Clarity Design, ThermoFisher Scientific, Primo Wind, Rady Children's Hospital, Solar Turbines, Imagining Healthcare Specialists and the Vildosola Racing Team. The SAE Mini Baja's sponsors include Taylor Foundation, Terrible Herbst and Calmotion.

Entrepreneurial-infused projects were placed at different places within Loma Hall's ground floor, too. Next to each other in the foyer were next generation of indoor ceiling fans called Breathe Easy Fans and Shot Timer (Precision Metrics), a weapon-mounted shot-timing device capable of collecting data related to the relative axis orientation, angular velocity of the weapon system and the critical moments before and after the trigger squeeze.

Hive Soundz, the first portable speaker that gives users the ability to play one unified audio signal via Bluetooth or Wi-Fi, was in the ASML Ideation room while Cold Shoulder Coolers were stationed just outside Donald's Garage.

One other project on display was an interdisciplinary partnership project between USD's General Engineering discipline and the Department of Mathematics called Unfolding Humanity. This is an idea that has brought students, staff, faculty and alumni together to construct a 10-foot tall by 40 feet wide interactive metal sculpture that calls attention to the connection and contrast between humanity and technology. The project is currently being built locally off campus and it has been approved to be on display at the internationally known Burning Man Festival in northern Nevada in August.

The Engineering and Computing Showcase enjoyed another first as all mechanical and electrical engineering capstone projects were judged by members of ASME (American Society of Mechanical Engineers) and IEEE (Institute of Electrical and Electronics Engineers) to determine a first- and second-place cash award winner. Dean Roberts announced that the SAE Mini Baja team, which consists of 15 students across multiple engineering disciplines, was the first-place recipient while the four-person Kiosk Power System team finished second.

— Ryan T. Blystone